Tuesday 23 October 2012

Mr Benn Is An Ordinary Fellow…

… living an ordinary life in an ordinary suburban house, at Number 52, Festive Road. One day, Mr Benn receives an invitation to a fancy dress party, and so, donning his bowler hat, he sets off to find a costume to wear. Unable to find a suitable outfit in the usual shops, he turns down a small lane and finds a shop filled with strange and unusual costumes. Inside, Mr Benn asks the fez-wearing shopkeeper if he can try on a suit of red armour; he then enters the changing room, puts on the outfit, and walks through another door... and suddenly finds himself transported back to medieval times. It is the first of many amazing and extraordinary adventures for Mr Benn…

Mr Benn Logo

Not everybody enjoys dressing up – but for children it is a really important part of play, and of learning. Last week was incredibly busy – and one of my activities was making some more dressing-up costumes – this time for the excellent Playgroup which meets in our Church Hall. African, Indian [sari and kurta], Chinese [boy’s suit] and Japanese [kimono]



There will be some Polish ones to make after half-term. The more costumes I make, the more I learn about the process -

  • make them generously sized AROUND the body – children want to put these on over their other clothes, so the garments need to be roomy round the chest/waist and under the arms.
  • make them a little bit SHORT, so they don’t become a trip hazard – and put roll-up hems on the trousers so they can adjust for different leg lengths.
  • keep the fastenings as SIMPLE as possible- elastic, press-studs [poppers] and Velcro – and always put the scratchy hooks facing OUTWARDS and the soft loops facing INWARDS towards the body.
  • add HANGING LOOPS [even to the inside of the hats] so the costumes can go back on the hangers, in complete sets, after play.
  • ‘impression’ is MORE IMPORTANT than ‘authenticity’ – so the sari is a simple skirt. [A seamed rectangle, with an elasticated casing at the waist] Then I sewed a narrower length of fabric along the side seam, which then goes over the shoulder. Much safer than wrapping the child up in a length of fabric!

More tips on costume making on these posts – here, here and finally here. the last one is the basic Nativity Costume tutorial – I adapted that for the kimono, adding a sash [with Velcro fastening]

I don’t do Pinterest – but I am fascinated that at least two dozen people have checked out my costume tutorials there. I do hope that proves they have been useful to others.


  1. The costumes look very nice. The children should enjoy dressing up in them.

  2. Oh Halloween! Better get the penny jar ready.

  3. Wow - being a new reader of your blog I hadn't seen any of your costumes, but these are amazing! I shall bookmark them for reference for when we do our school play/Christingle service etc :)

  4. They look super.
    I am making Biblical costumes for our Open the Book series at our local school. Definitely a good idea to make them roomy!

  5. well done, they do indeed look lovely.

    I remember Mr. Ben.

    Gill in Canada

  6. Loved Mr Benn. Keep trying to find him for the boys. Love the costumes also! x

  7. Fantastic! I was ALWAYS dressing up when I was little at school and playgroup. Er-well, judging by my current post, not much has changed...
    Hope you are well Angela x

  8. I've never heard of Mr. Benn - will have to see if the library carries the book(s). They sound very fun.

    Your costumes are beautifully done.

  9. Would you make them for other preschool? Might be a way of earning a bit


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